I am basically a mediocre climber who has dabbled in all sorts of climbing. I started doing more trad and then moved into winter alpine mountaineering and then to big wall but mostly doing it as a weekend warrior / holiday climber.
My current aims are explained in this 1 minute long video.
These aims came about after a trip to Yosemite where I mostly aimed to solo some routes I really felt the desire to free climb big walls. A good idea but the only real problem being my fitness. After a bunch of injuries and a severe lack of climbing routes my endurance was low and my finger strength was pretty poor.
At this point, with frequent pulley, collateral ligament and back-disc issues I was not even sure if it was possible for me to climb anything resembling ‘hard’. That said I was ready to try, starting at the bottom I climbed the easiest routes and, as my fingers allowed, slowly increased the difficulty.
I was training mostly in the Castle Climbing center in London, first with my friend Hattie and then Angela who was totally psyched to train and work hard.
After my Solo Yosemite in April 2014 I took a bit of time off climbing and started to train after that. In reality at that point in time I could probably climb around 7a on Sport or Trad.
We did 4x7s on routes (4 routes 7 times each on lead with no rest) which took between 45min and 1hour to build general endurance. We did doubles (a hard route, for you, and try and lead it twice with no rest).
The aim was to climb 7b in Siruana in October that year. Which I did.
Back to the UK for winter and we carried on training. We did 4x4s on the wave in addition to the above while paying careful attention to injury management and preventative exercises.
March 2015 in Kalymnos the aim was to redpoint 7c and I did. Actually it was graded 7c+ but I think it was soft so 7c might be the right grade anyway. This was a great confidence boost, it felt like that if I just followed the process and was careful with injury I could maybe actually get strong.
During this time I worked for a two and a half years and saved really hard – 70% of after-tax wage sort of hard – I even did work on-the-side to meet this target and I did, just.
A plan was forming in my head. A plan that would see me climbing and travelling for the next three years. I would start by going sport climbing for a year and a half, build up the fitness, then move back in to Trad and more adventurous climbing with the end goal of free climbing routes on El Cap.
I left my job in July 2015, converted my car in to a camper van, and with my brother we travelled down to Briancon in France, then Ceuse and then Spain where we rented an apartment.
Due to the disruption of leaving London at the start of this trip I was taking a few days to redpoint a 7b+ and three months later I climbed my first 8a and onsighted my first 7b+.
All in all, 1.5 years from taking the decision to start training and then moving to climbing full time I had moved my redpoint grade up from around 7a+ to 8a and my max onsight from 7a to 7b+.
The generally reassuring thing about all of this is that consistent training processes work, just climbing more works wonders and training carefully with injury allows you to get stronger and healthier at the same time.
It is now just 2016, I am writing this while doing new-years in El Chorro. I have 6 months in Asia ahead – a month each in Ton Sai, Thakek, Yangshou and somewhere else afterward until June.
For the rediculousness of it I decided to call this trip master plan Psycheventure.. an adventure in climbing psyche.. or something and we have made some silly videos too.